On Wednesday evening, the students of WJ put on the first annual United for Music concert and silent auction. Alongside the Georgetown University Veteran’s Association, a night full of music, dance and art raised money for the non-profit charity No One Left Behind.
No One Left Behind is an organization focused on helping Afghan and Iraqi translators and interpreters that worked with the U.S. military and were promised a life in the U.S., but have no way of getting here. No One Left Behind is committed to ensuring that these men and women and their families can come to the United States and have housing, transportation, food and jobs.
The idea for WJ to put on this benefit concert started with sophomore Sarai Flores, the creator of WJ’s first co-ed a cappella group, Red Velvet.
“One of the things I wanted to do with [Red] Velvet was not only bett
er [participants] as musicians but also use music to help the community and better them as people,” she said.
Flores, whose mother works in the veteran community, felt it was important to choose an organization that wasn’t widely known, but easy enough to make a connection with. Flores is extremely passionate about the work No One Left Behind does, so choosing them to collaborate with for the benefit concert was a no brainer.
My mom works in the veteran community and had connections to [No One Left Behind Founder] Matt Zeller directly, we chose the group. Not to mention I am very passionate about what No One Left Behind does.” Flores said.
The event opened up with a dance by junior Cara Tellier, and proceeded with performances by numerous musical groups, including the a cappella groups Red Velvet, Chocolate and Vanilla. In between each performance, a clip from a No One Left Behind video w
as shown, where the work the group has done was exhibited and interviews from people who have had their lives impacted by this charity were included. Interpreters from the area that have been helped by No One Left Behind were also in attendance, and gave their personal stories and background of how they got to the United States and achieved the life they have today.
“When I first thought of the idea, I thought it would never ever happen,” Flores said. “It started out as just one of my crazy ideas. When I pitched the thought to my partners in crime (sophomore Jose Flores and junior Tyller Kenke), they didn’t think twice about it and we immediately began.”
As a vice president of Red Velvet, Kenke worked tirelessly alongside Sarai Flores for weeks leading up to the event to make sure everything went off without a hitch.
“The concert was quite the success,” Kenke said. “We di
d indeed raise a lot of money for this organization, but what truly was amazing was that we were capable of bringing awareness to a cause which we believe genuinely mattered. I’m incredibly proud of all the members of Red Velvet for carrying our group’s philosophy. I’m also proud of their growth as musicians and individuals in society.”
Sarai Flores says that the night raised over $2,000 for No One Left Behind.
“I am so thankful for everyone who helped make my crazy idea come true,” Sarai Flores said. “I am a very stubborn person so know that everyone involved put up with a lot.”